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12/20/2009

Flyover Me

J0189620 Every once in a while, I find myself in a conversation that goes something like this:

Them:  So, where are you from?

Me:  Well, we're recently from Springfield but we've lived all over with the Navy and work.  I actually grew up between Annapolis and Baltimore.

Them: Are you hoping to move your family back East?

Me: No, I like it better here.

Them:  {pause} Really?

Me: Really.

Sometimes these conversations happen with another East Coast native that now finds themselves doing time in a midwestern state.  Sometimes they happen with an Ohio native, someone who's never lived anywhere else. Either way, I find myself in the odd position of defending my adopted home.

I grew up within a short walk to the water (muddy as our part of the Magothy River was, it was still water) and a bit of a longer walk or bike ride to even more rivers.  A quick trip in the car and I could be in DC, Baltimore, over the Bay Bridge, or hanging out in Historic Annapolis.  I spent lazy summer days at my friend's family beach cabin catching crabs with nothing but a piece of string, a chicken neck, and a big butterfly net. I never imagined that I would live anywhere else than where I was from.

Then I fell in love, but not just with my future husband.  I fell in love with where he was from, and I fell hard.

My first visit to southwest Ohio was Christmas of my sophomore year in college.  I flew out to visit my then-boyfriend and his family and friends.  I was struck by two things almost as soon as I got off the plane.  One, it was cold.  Very cold.  Two, life in Ohio didn't run at the frantic go-go-go-NOW-NOW-NOW pace of the East Coast.

Life was a bit slower here, slower and friendlier. 

I had an epiphany of sorts - life didn't have to be the race to the finish line it sometimes seemed to be on the East Coast.  Life in Ohio could be, well - just life

When we were stationed in Jacksonville, Florida during our Navy years, I read an opinion piece in Newsweek titled, "Flyover Country".  Rather than be offended at the name other air travelers had given the midwestern states, the writer embraced it; I can understand why.  Life here in the middle states often looks dull to the outside eye but those of us who love the midwest see beauty, not boredom.

It took us many years to get back to Ohio, years filled with moves, houses, job changes, and new babies.  We finally came home in 2004 to Springfield and now live a bit further south (toward the river in OhioSpeak).  It thrills me that my children will know our small town as the backdrop for their childhood memories.

And it thrills me to finally put down roots where I belong.

Flyover me - please.

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